|Seriously, this tent is legit|
|She likes Donatello|
because he wears purple
as Donatello for Halloween, despite the fact that she can't sit through a whole episode of the actual cartoon since she thinks it is too scary. A lot of things are scary to her. She can't sit through pretty much any Disney movie with the exception of Frozen, Wall-E, and Toy Story 2 because she has an aversion to bad guys. Cinderella: the mommy isn't nice, Tangled: the witch mommy isn't nice, Lion King: the bad lion is bad, Toy Story 1: Sid is scary and the toys in his room are scary, Beauty and the Beast: the wolves, Winnie the Pooh: bees (Seriously. She doesn't like Winnie the Pooh because she is scared of bees). On the other hand, she likes the original Star Wars just fine because Darth Vader is cool. In fact she enjoys playing AS Darth Vader when we have lightsaber battles. However, Empire Strikes back and Return of the Jedi are out because the Wampa and the Rancor are extremely scary to her. If we watch those, we have to fast forward. We can watch parts of How to Train Your Dragon but not all of it: Toothless is adorable, the other dragons not so much. Despite all of this aversion to "bad guys," her preferred method of play is to have battles, to attack balloons with her knight sword, to pretend we are superheroes saving the day from the evil Loki (our cat, not the actual Marvel villain. Sometimes the cat plays the role of Lok-a-roid, a deadly asteroid that is attacking our space command).
|Seriously, this movie |
can't come soon enough
|Who WOULDN'T want to be|
this badass bitch
Even at 4 my daughter has experienced our sexist culture. She has been told by friends at school that certain things are "for boys," she has walked into the toy store and seen the separation of the gendered playthings, she has seen movies where women only serve as objects to be rescued (even though she doesn't particularly care for them). There are two tacks that you can take to address this problem. The first is denial. You can simply refuse to allow your children to watch princess movies, to limit their exposure to media in general, or to presume
|Oh look, another boy off|
on an adventure.
|One of these is astronaut Karen Nyberg|
her pictures of female astronauts like Karen Nyberg, an engineer formerly on board the ISS, whose flowing blonde hair is so similar to her own, and I bring home books about inspiring women like Jane Goodall. I do these things very consciously. I do it because without taking the time to actively select books and videos about inspirational women, without actively "indoctrinating" my daughter into the idea that women can accomplish the same things as men even at this early age, she could very easily go through life passively indoctrinating herself into the idea that they can't. There are several moments in my daughter's favorite book, Daredevil: the Daring Life of Betty Skelton, where
|Seriously, go read this book|
Trying to raise confident children is challenging regardless of gender, and much has been written about how too much of a "You can do anything, Billy" attitude has shaped a generation of young people whose aspirations outmatch their skills. But I think the challenge of raising confident girls is unique. Boys, by the very nature of our culture, will naturally fall into a belief that they can do anything. In school we teach them about presidents, about kings, about soldiers, and heroes and revolutionaries. They might spend a few days during their school career learning about notable women. So yeah, I take it upon myself to make sure she knows about those women who came before her. I make sure to tell her that women can do anything that men can. I acknowledge the sexism that exists, I actively correct her when she tells me a blue shirt with a dinosaur on it is "for boys." When my daughter tells me she wants to be an astronaut I tell her about all the wonderful women in NASA, but I also make sure to tell her how hard it is to get into space, and how few people really make it. She will have to work really hard, she will have to do really well in science and math, and pass all sorts of tests. Even if she is strong and smart she might not make it, but there are lots of things that she could do with her passions: work at NASA on the ground, work at a science museum, be an engineer. I want her to be able to "reach for the stars" but I also don't want her to feel inadequacy if she doesn't make it there. Most of all I want her to be a feminist. I want her to proudly be able to declare the simple idea that boys and girls should be afforded the same opportunities, I want her to one day say confidently to someone who would deny her, "yes I can." And that doesn't mean I deny her the right to wear pink, the desire to be a princess too. I simply make sure she knows she can be so much more.